By S. T. Joshi
H. P. Lovecraft has turn out to be well-known because the best writer of supernatural fiction within the 20th century. yet how did a guy who died in poverty, without publication of his tales released in his lifetime, turn into such an icon in horror literature? S. T. Joshi, the top authority on Lovecraft, lines intimately the process Lovecraft’s lifestyles and indicates how Lovecraft was once engaged within the political, monetary, social and highbrow currents of his time.
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Extra resources for A Dreamer & A Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time
Lovecraft speaks frequently in later years of a trip to western Rhode Island taken in 1896, and it seems likely that this trip to ancestral lands was, at least in part, an attempt by his family to rid him of his nightmares and his general malaise. In conformity with his carefree and rather unsupervised childhood, Lovecraft was allowed ready access to the ‘windowless third-story trunk-room’29 at 454 Angell Street, where the family’s collection of eighteenth-century volumes—then considered outdated and of no contemporary relevance—was stored.
I have in literal truth built altars to Pan, Apollo, Diana, and Athena, and have watched for dryads and satyrs in the woods and fields at dusk. Once I firmly thought I beheld some of these sylvan creatures dancing under autumnal oaks; a kind of ‘religious experience’ as true in its way as the subjective ecstasies of any Christian. If a Christian tell me he has felt the reality of his Jesus or Jahveh, I can reply that I have seen the hoofed Pan and the sisters of the Hesperian Phaëthusa. (‘A Confession of Unfaith’) This certainly puts the lie to Bulfinch, who solemnly declared at the very beginning of The Age of Fable: ‘The religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct.
I accepted some as they were, but had my mother modify many in costume with the aid of knife & paint-brush. Much piquancy was added to my scenes by special toy buildings like windmills, castles, &c. But there was more to it than just a static landscape; with his inveterate feel for plot, and his already developing sense of time, history, and pageantry, Lovecraft would actually act out historical scenarios with his miniature cities. He adds significantly: ‘Horrorplots were frequent, though (oddly enough) I never attempted to construct fantastic or extra-terrestrial scenes.